Study: CT hospitals ranking below national safety benchmarks - WFSB 3 Connecticut

I-Team Investigation

Study: CT hospitals ranking below national safety benchmarks

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Handwashing is the best defense against infections Handwashing is the best defense against infections
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Channel 3 Eyewitness News Clarification:

We want to clarify something you saw on this story Monday at 11 p.m. We reported that Midstate Medical Center in Meriden used a respirator mask on more than one patient. The hospital has since told Eyewitness News the mask was never used on more than one patient, that the citation they received was for not properly cleaning the mask in between treatments.

Over the past two months, news coverage has been overrun with stories about infections.

Ebola, enterovirus, and other serious diseases that are killing people have been on the news constantly, so the Eyewitness News I-Team set out to find how safe hospitals are.

At the Quinnipiac School of Nursing, the first actual nursing skill new freshman learn isn't something new - it's something they've probably done since they were toddlers.

“The very first thing they learn is how to hand wash,” said Lynn Price, chair of the Graduate Nursing Program.

They also learn about something called ‘Hospital Acquired Infections,' which refers to patients who come into a hospital for something else, and get an infection while they're there.

The best defense is as simple as washing hands.

“It got more emphasized as we went on, but since we've been at the University we've understood that it's the first form of prevention and probably the most important thing,” said Cara Seckinger, a senior nursing student.

While student nurses are quick to say how important the lessons learned are, in practice, infection control is much tougher, according to a recent study that looked at the safety of hospitals across the country.

The study was released by the nonprofit organization Kaiser Health, which looked at hospitals across the country and declared Connecticut the worst in the country.

While most of the hospitals hit the benchmarks in most of the categories, more than half the hospitals in Connecticut fall below the national benchmark for at least one type of hospital acquired infection, which was the worst performance in the country.

“If hospitals look at the numbers and say ‘but most of the time we're at the benchmark' that's not good enough for me or for you,” said Jean Rexford, the executive director of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety.

Rexford said that while nurses in hazmat suits are making headlines for treating patients with Ebola, thousands of people being treated by caregivers in regular scrubs are getting infections and dying.

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 722,000 people got an infection in a healthcare facility and 75,000 of those people died.

“I'm sorry about Ebola, I know it's important, but meanwhile we have people dying every day from healthcare-acquired infections,” Rexford said.

The infection rates are broken down by hospital and sorted for those that are better than the national average, at the average, or below the average.

The federal government tracks six infection categories: bloodstream infections from a central line, urinary tract infections from a catheter, two types of surgical site infections, and two types of bacteria MRSA and C.DIFF.

In Connecticut, 16 out of the 27 Medicare-certified hospitals tracked by the federal government were below average for at least one type of infection.

Hartford Hospital, Middlesex Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, and Backus Hospital were below the benchmark in two categories.

Yale-New Haven Hospital was below the benchmark in three categories.

St. Mary's in Waterbury was the only hospital in the state to beat the benchmark in two of the six categories.

“We were surprised by how few above averages there were,” Rexford said. “The thing is, we've had quite a few years to work on it now and I know there are people working hard on it.”

The Eyewitness News I-Team has also dug through dozens of reports from federal health inspectors and what we found was alarming.

For mobile users to read a statement from St. Francis Hospital, click here.

For more information on the hospital acquired infection by facility, click here.

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